Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad says the government will consider what constitutes an insult before any introduction of stiffer laws to protect the monarchy from criticism, as announced by a minister this morning.
“We will look into the correct definition,” he said in a press conference after chairing the Special Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption at Perdana Putra here.
When asked why the sedition law was still used on those who insulted the royalty, Mahathir said the authorities did not understand what is considered an insult.
“So we need to spell out what is considered an insult.
“I’ve said in Malaysia, we have freedom of speech. If they speak factually, it is not wrong.
“If we close everyone’s mouth, when crimes happen and they can’t speak out, there will be injustice.”
De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong had brought up the possibility of stiffer laws today, following the arrest of several individuals over online comments deemed as insulting to the Malay rulers.
“It is crucial. We do not want the rakyat to criticise the Agong and sultans,” he said. “If the Cabinet agrees to amend the laws, we will.”
On The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report that Chinese officials had offered to bail out 1MDB and try to get the US and other countries to drop their investigations into the state fund, Mahathir said at the moment, it was only “a story in the press”.
Until the documents could be shown to them, he said, the government could not take any action.
“We need to find the documents and make use of them, and prove that this actually happened.”
On the response by the Chinese embassy in Kuala Lumpur, which said China never attaches political conditions to its cooperation with other countries, Mahathir said the Chinese ambassador could “say what he likes”.
“His comments are okay with us,” he added.
“We need to know what actually happened before we can make any statements.”
On Low Taek Jho’s claim that the WSJ report was politically motivated, Mahathir said the fugitive businessman had made similar statements many times before.
He also gave assurance that Low, better known as Jho Low, would be tracked down.
“We will find him. There are only seven billion people, it is not that difficult.
“We can find a needle in the haystack. He will be the needle. We will find the haystack.”
On reports that Israel’s Paralympics swimming team had been barred from entering the country to participate in the World Para Swimming Championships in July, he reiterated the government’s stand that the athletes would not be allowed into Malaysia.
“We do not allow,” he said. “If they want to take away the contest, they can take away the contest.”